I’m a beginner biker in Alaska, and my favorite trail to take my mtb to is the Eklutna Lakeside Trail. It’s a 26 mile roundtrip (you have to double back) dirt and sometimes gravel trail that is absolutely GORGEOUS on a sunny, summer day. The Eklutna Valley is bordered by snow-tipped craggy peaks, and a few winters ago, there was a massive avalanche that turned a ton of trees into toothpicks, about 9 miles down the trail. The park service plowed the fallen trees aside to clear the trail, but the rest of the devastation remains. It’s incredible. There’s a gravel airstrip near the far end of the lake, as well as Eklutna Jack’s cabin, an old sourdough’s shack from the olden days tucked back in the trees.

Mostly flat with some gentle slopes, there are several short, kinda steep hills to huff n’ puff up. It’s a pretty easy trail to bike, I think. It’s pretty well maintained, and the trail is wide in most spots. Bring bear spray (bear mace), because the furry bruins love the local berries, and it’s wise to take bug repellant too. Alaska is famous for the mosquitoes.

A gem at the end of the 13 mile trail is hiking the short Eklutna Glacier Trail, which, ta-daa, goes up to the Eklutna Glacier. Bee-yoo-tiful, but stay away from the spiffy blue ice, folks, the stuff can crack off at anytime.

To get there from Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway north to the Eklutna exit, taking a right turn toward the mountains, following the signs to the parking lot, which is several miles up the potholed, scenic road. Currently, there’s a $5 parking fee for regular sized cars, and if the Nat’l park service dude isn’t manning the guard shack, you’ll need a pen with you in the car to fill out the “self service” parking slip.

Phew! Okay, I guess I covered everything you’ll need to know.

Also, if you’re into kayaking, this is a great lake for it, though you have to hand carry your craft several hundred feet from the parking lot to the water.